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Utah Jazz: Team well-aware that history is squarely against them

SALT LAKE CITY — Twelve hours or so after digesting a Game 3 loss that has them down 0-3 to the defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers, the Jazz on Sunday sounded about as dejected as they looked.

Questions were plentiful, but answers were brief.

"There's not much else to say," power forward Carlos Boozer said. "We should have won (Saturday); we just didn't."

"We just got beat," point guard Deron Williams added with reference to a 111-110 Western Conference semifinal series Game 3 loss in which a long jumper by Williams and a short tip by rookie shooting guard Wesley Matthews both refused to fall. "It's a tough loss to swallow. We were right there, and we had chances to win."

They have all series.

But despite being up by four points in the final four minutes of Game 1 in Los Angeles, down by just four in the last five minutes of Game 2 in L.A. and up by three with 55 seconds left in Saturday night's Game 3 at EnergySolutions Arena, the Jazz capitalized on none of those opportunities.

Three games, three losses, 14 points separating the two teams.

So close — yet so, so far.

The sting — especially that from Game 3 — seemed to hurt as much Sunday morning as it did Saturday night.

"Nah, it's not gonna go away," Matthews said when asked if it had. "It's still gonna stay there."

And that has the Jazz feeling they have only one choice in tonight's Game 4.

That, Matthews said, would be to "just play basketball."

"We've just got to get this one to get going," Boozer said.

"We've got nothing to lose," Matthews added.

Except, that is, a playoff series with the Lakers for the third straight postseason.

That's not the only reason they seemed to be hurting so much Sunday.

Perhaps it was also because they know no team in NBA history — 88 have tried — has come back from being down 0-3 to win a best-of-seven series.

And because they are well-aware of Lakers coach Phil Jackson's history, too, when one of his teams wins Game 1 of any postseason series.

"The record speaks for itself," Matthews said.

"You know, coach Jackson is 45-or-something-and-0; no team has ever come back from 0-3," he added, nailing the numbers. "You can go on and on and on and on. But they've still got to beat us four times."

They do, and the Jazz only hope that if fate intends for just that to happen, it won't be in the first best-of-seven sweep in Utah franchise history.

"I don't think anybody wants to get swept," Williams said.

Especially not Jazz coach Jerry Sloan, who has way too much pride for that.

He can only hope his players have just as much tonight.

"I don't think these guys are gonna quit," Sloan said Sunday.

"They may make some mistakes, but I don't think they're gonna quit. I think they'll come and play hard.

"We have to realize that they're a great team — and everybody knows that," he added with reference to the West's No. 1 seed Lakers. "But I still think the idea of liking to play basketball and coming and showing up and doing your job is what's expected."

The Jazz actually have been on the opposite end of being up 3-0 and seeing an opponent come back.

Denver did it against Utah in 1994, but the Nuggets ultimately lost Game 7.

Sloan, though, couldn't care less about any of that.

"If you have to go back to that, you're drawing straws," he said. "I think you just come and lay your body out there on the line, and make sure you say to yourself as you walk off the floor, 'I did the best I can do.' And that's all you can ask."

Nor did Sloan on Sunday care to ponder the impact of a short series with the Lakers or the ultimate meaning of an impressive first-round win over Northwest Division-champ Denver.

"I can't worry about what happened in the past," the Jazz coach said. "We have a game to play (tonight), and the only thing I know is to come and give it your best shot."

And hopefully for the Jazz, from their perspective, that shot actually falls when it matters most — unlike Saturday, when the final 4.4 seconds were cruel to Utah as can be.

"We haven't found ways to win," Williams said. "You know, we were right there all three games. We just haven't made the right plays.

"Yeah, we'd like to beat these guys," Sloan added. "You know, we get the ball in the basket (Saturday) night at the end of the ballgame — it makes (Sunday) a different day. But that's part of it — learning how to deal with the good and bad in life. There's always gonna be both at different times."